CHARLOTTE — The Panthers mostly got what they needed out of Cam Newton.
They could not, however, contain his former backup.
Former Panthers and current Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke led the Football Team to a 27-21 win Sunday, spoiling Newton’s homecoming and raising some questions about the Panthers defense.
Heinicke had another great day — a week after beating Tom Brady — and offered some of Newton’s flair for the dramatic.
He’d pop up and do Newton’s first-down signal after scrambles, and bounced back from a number of hard shots, and made some impressive throws on the run.
Heinicke finished 16-of-22 for 206 yds with three touchdowns and a career-best 141.3 passer rating.
Washington also ran better than anticipated.
The Panthers entered the week ranked 12th in the league in run defense, but had given up big numbers against Dallas, Minnesota, and New England.
The Football Team rushed for 190 yards.
— Newton and the Panthers offense were fine, and not really the problem for much of the day.
They converted just one of their first six third downs, and Washington wasn’t great defending those (32nd in the league entering the day).
But that was before Newton led a 91-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, offering some spark.
Newton finished 21-of-27 for 189 yards with two touchdown passes and a touchdown run.
But late in the game, when they needed it most, he came up a little short.
A fourth-down pass to McCaffrey in the fourth quarter was stopped short of the sticks, turning the ball over in their own territory.
Washington followed with a field goal.
The Panthers had one last chance in the final two minutes, but Newton was dropped for a sack on fourth down to end the suspense, and allow Heinicke to kneel out the game.
— The Panthers left the day with another injury question.
Left tackle Dennis Daley exited the game after the first play of the second offensive series, with a glute injury. He was initially listed as questionable, but did not return.
They were already playing their eighth combination of starting linemen in 11 games. That forced rookie Brady Christensen into the lineup.
Cornerback Donte Jackson left late in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. He was slow to get up, and walked straight to the injury tent on the sidelines.
He was able to return in the fourth quarter and finished the game.